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Read this: The drama of TV production

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The drama of TV production…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, I'm Andrea catherwood, and this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 from game shows to drama the documentaries British TV companies produce some of the most popular programs in the world, but the doctor has put a halt to it all for now so today on the media.

Show we're going to look at the Holiday industry starts and what post coronavirus television might look like and I'm delighted to say that I've got some of the biggest names in the business with me or virtually Andy Harries is the man behind the Crown on Netflix please CEO of Left Bank pictures another recent it for them was quiz on ITV The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire drama Andy where were you before the lockdown happened at might become to our generation the equivalent of where were you when JFK was shot I gather that.

We're just finishing off the latest series of the Crime did you have to speed it up or did you get it all in the can before the locked on happened? We were very lucky on the Crown just nearing the very end of the film.

We would like to have a few more days, but so we will see that it's like chasing the lights in the morning.

So we would have liked to have a couple of days.

We didn't quite get them what we got so we are on target to as normal in November this year, but it has provided but a number of challenges and finishing the shows because obviously film isn't it? Just the Princess and the team have worked incredibly hard in the editing all the witches obviously has been done and they're not going conditions and with technical to their houses.

Without people are extremely challenging I can imagine also here with me is Jonathan Hughes who is CEO of Pioneer Productions which is part of the Big Ten Oculus TV group of specialist factual shows have you seen a surge in demand from TV controllers for science documentaries about coronavirus and are you able to make them interesting coronavirus news and current affairs are pretty much set the service has been a few quick fast turnaround but but pretty minimal but it's only pretty minimal compared to the impact on the rest of production Ltd has halted or other TV filming has been in the documentary.

Unscripted work has halted the other bits of it as Andy says can happen that the prep work can still happen if you if you think you'll be able to film and the the post work can happen you have to work around the remote Solutions that you remain busy, but what we can't do we send me the restricted at the moment.

Is is the film bit yeah, and that's it will come back and talk to talk to you about a little bit later.

Also with me is manori ravindran.

Who is back with us minori is my international editor at variety magazine.

Tell me what your top story today on the website could very well be postponed.

If you've got that is an exclusive story.

not surprising to a lot of people but effectively it is I mean can you imagine an entire you know the film season with basically builds up to that February ceremony effectively postponed at some point early summer so so we'll see what happens, but there was obviously the news previously that I didn't get that was back in April but this year for this year's Oscars films released digitally could indeed qualify so that was you know that this is really the toll pandemic has really changed the game in terms of things that perhaps we could come in the next couple of years are just happening a lot sooner and is bringing change and you've also got a new show right now on Netflix called white lines, let's hear a clip from that is basically it's very different from the Crown at a murder mystery sets on Ibiza

How many years ago there would be no investigation best friends, they all seem pretty suspicious, when did you last see you again and he took us through the backstory to the show I was I was very happy to see if I can make it so that marry the two biggest languages in the west of world a Spanish and English and always loved the FIFA and I had a notion of a story that we might set there and we luckily discovered a man called Alex pena.

This was just before the card or PayPal or money.

Netflix so we turned him up.

He left the Spanish companies.

Set up his own company was intrigued by the idea.

We flew to Madrid and Messi and we both got very very excited about bringing this to the and Netflix saw the ambition of idea and we said about doing yet.

I just been a huge success get any feedback from Netflix on the stats so far up on Friday what we do know yesterday to tell us that they did really that it was number one in 22 countries around the world and sadly you know we you suddenly realise that global television isn't just something with talking about it's really happening is really here.

You know this is a very very different way of making shows the way I used to make size 10 years ago.

You make it so now it goes up on the lights on Netflix if it's the right show and I guess sort of an escapist is a show like white lines is what people want to watch at the moment.

Your bank if you got a big hit this amazing.

Yeah, that's incredible quiz for upset not quite number 1 and 22 countries, put it did really well rating wise and ITV of the drama behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the the coughing major is this a great time to launch a new series now when everyone's at home and you have a captive audience.

What do you do for a television producer if you're lucky enough to have a good show at the right time being released at the chance of having a hit and James Graham wrote cuisine is a wonderful British writer so uniquely British Story one that I was actually at ITV at the time.

So it was very well, so I loved it.

What is a bring it to the screen with James and it was perfect timing wasn't it? Was it was just perfect to abuse people and entertain people so few weeks.

Whitelines number 1 and 22 countries does that mean that you've got a second series commissioned already? I'm very hopeful that we will be fantastic working with a Spanish company and you know we are making the series against the background of brexit so we kind of what are the last April European efforts to promote cross-cultural Spanish culture and the Fusion of the two of them manori ravindran the variety magazine.

We know that a lot of filming has had to stop tell me a little bit about the commissioning of things I imagine that it's slowed I mean who would Commission in these uncertain times.

What's important to keep in mind as the types of programs that are being commissioned so you know as we've seen you seen so many headlines about this, but there's so much focus on our news and factual and a lot of quick turnaround shows as well as I can Jonathan this was mentioned before as well.

So things that could be done you know shows have been popular and when do they deliver budgeting 30-day commission so we are seeing you no green light for programs like that in terms of some of those big drama commissions.

I think it's really going to take take a very long time we saw some experimentation with the BBC and ITV doing you know some sense of isolation dramas and things like that in terms of those big premium offerings basically that we've all become so used to I think we are quite a ways away.

I mean we saw a guy say couple of months ago by the Edinburgh TV sessions at Cameron Roach I believe.

Will be 2021 before they can involve you know international Productions again, and I wanted outstanding Talent and travel and and a host of other issues, but then commissioning is really going to see a very certain kind of commissioning being done and not very much of the the biggest up and Andy coach tours of the kind of programs that you make but in terms of of their content.

Do you think the commissioners on and viewers are going to want to see dramas set in the times of coronavirus? Would you be interested in making a drama about that? I don't I think that you could see that people responding to at the moment.

I think they want to sleep and I mean not just from the coronavirus but from the economic situation together follow, so I think the accident on programs and more people are getting permission much more upbeat music or perhaps entertaining comedy drama feel good drama.

I think he is going to get order of.

That's interesting what you do with contemporary drama because even if it's feel good if it's supposed to be set right now do and it's not about the pandemic.

Do you still have to have that as part of the story line or you just ignore it or do you pretend that it was set in 2028? What would you do with that? Very well in the pandemic? And I don't think when we finally come out of it is what people want to be watching quite sometime maybe about 10-years time when they can't restore and hopefully environments and crude and all is well and they might look back with some curious coming to watching a sort of face mask special and he just think of all those World War 2 movies will let me bring in Jonathan Hughes now from Pioneer Productions

Jonathan when you're looking at this from the point of view of documentary makers we talked about this going too fast turnaround programs about the pandemic.

They will obviously very quickly what else are TV controllers after and what can you provide?

A lot of people wanted the moment.

He's what is information.

They want the crisis is forcing people or or leading people to think about the world.

We living in a way that may be quite a lot of people have them.

So where is a company that makes science and history programming mostly makes a lot more factual so I do think there's there's potentially quite exciting opportunities for show for films that address that need that will come out of this.

We might not want pandemic programming but I do think there will be a renewed sense of shared world.

We all share and haven't connected it isn't and why we need to think that's more careful about it.

I'll see you in the schedule for BBC

Weather today in a couple of weeks time you've got a show called Ocean autopsy on that doesn't sound like the kind of thing that you can film from home was that production by the locked I just finished we we we we had finished filmed and edited and and delivered it and it's a call to arms about how we are in danger of our oceans, so it's obviously not it's not exactly escapist entertainment but but what he does speak to an issue.

That is that is bigger and more long-term then the pandemic 2 pandemic is anything but we know that I'm through pandemics the oceans is something we're going to have to address not just next year but for the next.

5850 years and I do think there might be more of her engagement with topics that aren't happy clappy church are important that many of us are to some extent enjoying the opportunity to watch even more TV than usual.

I wonder if we expect a shortage of new shows later on in this year and what TV channels are doing about that are they looking to buy series elsewhere or or to repeat programmes or mix a toner to totally totally valid concern and we are actually seeing the CW which is the one of the broadcasters in the US has just passed week actually made a number of acquisitions of third-party content or national content.

I think actually international distributors this certainly good news because

Broadcaster is for sure will be one and two you know look for those finished series that they can basically just buy and plant on the schedule, so absolutely they'll be looking at positions.

I mean in terms of how old is going to sleep up.

We are it's really really tough because I feel as though there is going to be apparently.

This is a production now.

It's going on month to and we're still exactly when does concern up again probably you know why I feel so what I'm hearing.

Is that a lot of the premium drama looking at July at this point but that's a serious amount of time to be out of production and so I do think that you know some of the shows that were expected to be scheduled for next year for sure.

You'll sort of know that there will be a lot of reading and things will have disappeared however I say that right now there in in a sense.

There is a little bit of market crashing going on here as well simply because there is such an overabundance of of content and so there's probably actually why people have.

That much these days because you know there's just so so just over TV series and films and also shows that are easy to get in and so I didn't actually there might be just enough content to get a science.

I don't think people will notice that Jonathan do Pioneer and eating apples.

Have a back catalogue that the commissioners and TV controllers might be nipping into at the moment.

We do we have a sister company programs and had a company's programs and they certainly been very busy as you say finish programs already made holes in schedules, and there's definitely been a pick up on that we weave ocean autopsy, how much is it is likely to be selling to Discovery science in America which are quite sober quite detailed film about the North Sea a long long way.

America is I'm not sure I'd expected that 6 months ago, but it's finished program.

It's a 2-hour slot having said that one of the things that you looking at you looking at broadcasters.

Who are all over the who are suffering huge financial pain and one of the things that can go quite quickly is your acquisitions budget so and then it's repeats what the resumption of filming which is obviously with everybody in the industry wants to see and a Happy New guidelines published this week by the industry about filming TV and lockdown.

Can you read actors to M2 parts unless the dramas about locked on of course? Are you planning to get up and running in July the questions I can see that some fairly simplistic drama resource settings might be able to get up and running.

I think anything is slightly more complex or obviously overseas.

We have a thriller that we were hungry and social distancing laws.

I don't know you know there are a lot of issues are not just actually how you play at the scene of the areas that provide complex challenges that is really not easy it's really and I wonder whether or not that leads you to talking about moving from Hungary to London but what about switching any of the shows to a country where coronavirus doesn't seem to be a problem New Zealand for example that is something that I think as Sunday lucky and we haven't yet? It's like it could be a good idea.

Without a lot to the budget, etc, etc.

Etc.

Is the broadcast to go to pay the extra amount of money for switching that he said that you know if you're going to make it may be 20% to the anyway and would you look at them so filming the crime outside the UK and the bit that you don't know where they filmed here until next year so I'm hoping that it won't impact on season 5 of the Crown that they will be solutions to this.

We've just got to keep our fingers crossed and see what is there a worry for the British TV industry that other countries which exit looked on quicker might actually prove more attractive base to make new shows Iceland and Australia and New Zealand Sweden Denmark very attractive but at the same time you know we have to keep in mind that even these even these country is there still a lot of them.

Do you have travel restrictions in place and quarantine period so you know the two week period that obviously the UK has that is employed also to so just because some of them opened up for production Iceland I believe this is allowing visitors and as of June 15th it still means.

They are people upon arrival.

You can get a test and you know if your baby room.

Then you're allowed to enter the country, but if not you still have that quarantine period and so you know when that's that's expensive so I think they're still it's not quite as clear-cut as Jonathan and attached on there's no it's a major issue, and that is insurance.

It's going to be very difficult to get insurance when you don't know whether or not you can build a complete the project is all scripted and Unscripted factual TV has the benefit of it being more easy to film with social distancing filming interview filming a small number of people is obviously much much more achievable in the world.

We now living compared to a drama reality show with a massive cast it still in issuing in its.

I think it is almost certain that or highly likely that the it will be an added risk it without you being there.

Option risk that the producer probably have to take this means the future health of the UK's broadcasters and you know you're doing business with with all the players and the quiz on ITV and obviously Netflix you've also got a feature length drama about Windrush coming up on BBC which of those places.

Do you think is best place to weather the storm well? I hope that the government are taking that so how important the BBC has been through this crisis.

I don't just say that because we're on the BBC right now, but I think and I think it's it's it's it's placed at the centre of British television and properly and fully supported in the years ahead from BBC is what keeps the created interest in this country strong and healthy and fit for purpose and we in this country about White

This country and it is vital to get back as soon as possible, so I think the BBC will the real support and I think ITV's going to have a problem because obviously advert commercial station to the station and I'm not just the right shows the auditors up.

It's going to be challenging for them for sure.

I don't think that takes on Amazon and the impact this disruption Jonathan you have a documentary series on BBC4 at the moment there were rumours that was going to be asked to help the black hole in the broadcasters finances and BBC's annual plan today confirm that is still going to be commissioning but do you think documentary makers?

BBC budgets going forward for a collapse of advertising revenue for the commercial you have this kind of paradox of the one thing we know is that during this moment during a pandemic and then we come out will almost certainly into recession.

What do I do people do now? What will people do them? They watch more television whether the the broadcasters will have the commercial revenues whether the advertisers will return and what they might advertise.

That's the right.

That's the Warren challenge and I don't think anybody should estimate the impact this is not an Island to itself.

This is just having another seismic effect on all lots of industries and TV is one of them.

Huge number of it's affecting production company is also affecting thousands and tens of thousands of people because we're a very specialised industry and that's in it's it's it's it's a challenge this week about temptation Island resume in filming basically given cast and crew in quarantine.

That's a big international format got versions Around The World is Not A Million Miles Away From Love Island ITV did cancel that earlier these kind of formats with all the crew make-up stylist caterers, do you think that they are capable of being done with social distancing at the moment? Well? I think that was a really really interesting move I think from Benidorm to go ahead with that with that mean in Ireland has been in the last couple of years.

We've seen that shows that of re-emerge and kind of give.

Love Island bit of a run for it's money.

I don't know if it's been this is really as successful in that despite getting a second season recommission USA network and us but this year.

I really do think that is going to fill that gap.

You know what is really the way to do it and I'm actually surprised that ITV didn't perhaps perhaps that group was for them as well before you know I think the restoring a number of options that you know as I reported earlier as well.

They were looking at a UK version.

They were looking to push the show to September to cancel that I think the quarantine is key here and I think if that can be done effectively and you have a small I mean we all know with something like that.

So that's over there in Majorca at helping helping out with that show remotely there all day together, but I think it with the smaller and more dedicated crew.

I think it's something like that is actually.

Andy very quickly would that quarantine model work for you, but it's something we might have to consider.

I mean people want to get back to work.

It's a very casual industry a lot of people begin to suffer they have been paid for many weeks.

They will want to get back to production.

We'll get back to production.

So we will be exploring every conceivable way to do so as the months go on we just have to see how quickly and and what's possible.

Thank you very much indeed all of you.

That's all we've got time for that.

Thank you to Andy Harris to Jonathan Jonathan Hughes and to manori ravindran, studio engineer today was Nigel Dixon and I will be back at the same time next week.


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